Ancient Egyptian Kool-Aid

aka Kerkaday (transliterated from Egyptian Arabic)

Ingredients:
2C dried hibiscus flowers *
1 gal. water (approx.)
1/3 - 1/2 C Sugar ...maybe more **

 

* Look in produce section of any large market.
  It's called Jamaica [pronounced ha-MY-ka]
** It should be honey. I have to experiment.

Equipment:
Dutch oven *                Large funnel **
fine-mesh sieve that fits inside the funnel
2-cup measuring device
1-gallon jar (milk bottle?) w/ tightfitting lid
large slotted spoon
2- to 3-ft siphon tube (optional)

* or any cooking pot that holds at least a gallon of liquid
** stem width must fit inside the top of the jar, and wider
   is better; the top opening should be at least 3" across

Fill the Dutch oven about 3/4 full of water. Bring to full boil.
Dump in the hibiscus flowers, and stir them around with the spoon. Cover the pot. Turn off the heat.
Let the mixture steep, maybe stirring occasionally, until it's cool enough to touch.

Put the sugar in the bottom of the jar where you are going to store the finished product.

Then the object is to strain the hibiscus tea you have made into the jar, and mix it with the sugar while it is still warm enough that the sugar will mix with the tea and stay mixed.
Whichever method you use, put the funnel in the top of the storage jar, with the sieve inside it, and send the tea through that conglomeration into the jar.

I use a siphon tube. I leave the Dutch oven on the stove, balanced on the edge of the burner so one side is lower than the other. Then the storage jar sits on the top of a kitchen ladder, which puts the mouth of the jar at least 6 inches below the bottom of the pot. Then I start siphoning, from the bottom of the pot, through the sieve and funnel, into the storage jar.
The alternate process is to pick up the Dutch oven and pour the tea through the sieve into the jar.

In either case, when the level of liquid gets low, it's useful to remove the used-up flowers from the pot and throw them away. (Do NOT put them down a garbage disposal. They will destroy it!) You can use the slotted spoon, the sieve, or your very own hands to do this. It avoids a mess if you are pouring the mixture from the pot into the jar...and helps reduce the incidence of lumpy tea.

When all the liquid is in the jar, put the lid on, and shake it until the sugar stays in solution.

You can drink it hot or cold. But store it (tightly sealed and) in a refrigerator...or it may ferment!

Hibiscus grew in Ancient Egyptian gardens. And everything in those gardens had to be useful, for food or medicine, or both. I can't prove they made Kerkaday thousands of years ago (with honey rather than sugar, of course). I like to believe they did. *